Hulu’s latest show,Tiny Beautiful Things, shares the hopeful story of one woman’s venture to find success as a writer–but we have to first watch as she climbs out of the pit of life she dug herself into. Kathryn Hahn stars as Clare Pierce. Her character is based on Cheryl Strayed, the real life author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things. Clare’s a mother struggling to focus her life and stay sane and sober as her marriage and career fall apart and her daughter turns against her.
The story opens with a drunk Clare, returning from a coworker’s retirement party, breaking into her own home. When her scared husband finds her, we learn that she has been kicked out of their house, and has been sleeping at the retirement facility that she manages. Clare’s whole life is falling apart. She can barely stay sober enough to do her job, she’s in marriage counseling with a therapist she can’t stand, and her own teenage daughter is moving on without her.
Throughout the chaos, Clare has been obsessively reading an advice column, “Dear Sugar.” In quiet snippets of peace, we see Clare soaking up the column’s tender responses, she even writes into the column herself, commiserating with the columnist on the loss of their sister. The column seems to be the only thing going right in Clare’s life, a respite from the turmoil, and a moment to re-focus as she tries to take control of her own story.
This is not to say that Clare’s struggles are just bad luck, or exist for some unscrupulous reason she has no part in– no, her life is falling apart in large part due to her decisions, her lack of decisions, her struggles grappling with the past and unwillingness to plan for the future. Clare is stuck in a mess of her own making, but she is thrown a lifeline just when she needs it the most.
Hahn’s incredible acting chops are supported by a fantastic cast. Tanzyn Crawford plays her angsty teenage daughter, Quentin Plair plays her husband who is struggling to repair their relationship, an amazing Michaela Watkins as Amy, her bartender turned therapist, and Sarah Pidgeon who plays an extraordinarily complex younger version of Clare.
The show is beautifully written and directed, creating a hopeful scenario out of an impossibly messy story. We find out throughout the mini-series what fans of Strayed already know– Clare forges her path to a more purposeful future, step by step as she reminders herself she is always three things: “I am my mother’s daughter, I am my daughter’s mother, and I am an accomplished writer, even if I haven’t accomplished it yet.”
All eight episodes of Tiny Beautiful Things are being released exclusively on Hulu on Friday, April 7.
All photos are still’s from the Hulu Original Tiny Beautiful Things, courtesy of Hulu.